Star Wars d6/d20 – The Variable Star

   This esoteric weapon is an application of attractive-field (or “artificial gravity”) technology. A Variable Star consists of a hilt, some twenty feet (roughly six meters) of retractable armored cable / waveguide, and a radiator tip at the end of the cable.

   This hilt contains the power supply, control circuitry, primary field generator, and the cable feed and retraction mechanism.

   With the hilt inactive and the cable extended, the user basically has a light, but very tough, whip.

   With the hilt active, the user may manipulate the length of the “whip”, the intensity of the attraction field, and it’s radius. The field itself is relatively simple; it pulls matter towards it’s center with considerable force – without reaction against the generator. On deactivation of the generator, the field will decay within 3.42 seconds, unless that process is accelerated (to any desired degree) with a counter-impulse.

   A variable-star is best used by a force-adept who can correct minor flaws in the generators crystal structure as they occur. It is, however, considerably more stable than a lightsaber. Crystals stand up to compression better than they do to being ripped apart and there’s simply no point in pushing a lightsaber’s power level through a Variable-Star. After all, liquids and solids are simply not that compressible* and there are distinct limits to how intense a compressed-air blast you want going off a mere ten feet away.

   That’s all simple enough.

   It’s actually using the thing that’s murderously difficult. A Variable-Star has five different variables – length, field radius, field intensity, field release, and field decay time – all of which can be adjusted on the fly on top of the difficulties inherent in using a flexible weapon. It even has a wide variety of potential environmental interactions and uses as a tool.

  • If a Variable Star is activated while the tip is in contact with a solid object the tip will solidly anchor itself to said object – however, since there is no action-reaction with a the artificial-gravity technology, this is due to air pressure against the cable, and will not work in a vacuum unless the tip gets in between two surfaces. While there are stories of using Variable Stars to snatch bullets and blaster bolts (or, far more plausibly, thrown items) out of the air, you’d need to be very good and either strongly precognitive or very lucky to do that.
  • If a Variable Star is activated while the tip is in contact with a living creature; the creature will generally suffer internal injuries from the unbalanced stresses applied to it’s tissues – and armor is only effective if it’s very thick, since the attractive field will pass straight through it. It will also find the tip firmly anchored to it, and may be more or less entangled. Smaller creatures can be whipped around or thrown, larger ones can simply be violently tugged.
  • If a Variable Star is activated while the tip is being waved through the air; the tip will create a sphere of high-pressure, high-temperature, air around itself. When the sphere is released (either by being whipped at a nearby target or by counter-impulse while in contact with a target), it will create a low-powered concussive blast.
  • If a Variable Star is activated while the tip is close enough to loose-but-solid material, such as sand or earth, it will collect a heavy, firmly-packed, ball of such material – an effective bludgeon or missile. Once again, however, given the lack of action-reaction on the radiator tip, as far as the user is concerned, the tip has gravitational but not inertial mass; it will tend to fall, but can be whipped around with ease – although snapping the tip of the “whip” will usually rip the material free of the field.
  • If a Variable Star is activated while the tip is close enough to a liquid, it will collect a sphere of high-pressure liquid – a reasonably effective bludgeoning weapon or missile, if not quite as effective as a solid one. It’s also possible to collect molten metal, magma, or hideous corrosives, but that tends to be hard on the radiator tip.
  • If the field is containing an explosive device as it detonates, it will notably dampen the explosion – although this usually destroys the radiator tip and result in a secondary, milder, explosion a second later.
  • The field can, at least briefly, contain toxic gases and materials, which can then be thrown away or hurled at an opponent.

   A master can use a Variable-Star to entangle, bind, and/or injure opponents, to snatch objects, to whip masses of material about or hurl them at targets, to create modest concussive blasts, to pull themselves to large solid objects, to dampen small explosions, and to collect masses of loose material, amongst other tricks. Unfortunately, using the thing effectively requires some way to manipulate all those controls in combat – such as a neural link, force powers, or some spare manipulative organs working a remote control. The things are far more awkward and counter-intuitive, than lightsabers themselves.

   There have been a few attempts to make Variable Stars even more versatile.

  • The “Nova” variant adds a reservoir of fuel to the hilt, a channel to carry it to the tip, and a stock of tiny detonators in the tip. This – in theory – allows the user to create and hurl small fuel-air bombs at the cost of a mere one additional control. Unfortunately, such “bombs” are both dependent on the local atmosphere and are far too easily detonated by weapons-fire, sparks, or the compression-heating of the sphere itself. Such variants do indeed tend to go “Nova” – in the user’s face.
  • The “Deathwind” variant adds a similar reservoir of some toxic or sophoric gas. Unfortunately, the containment of the pressure-sphere is anything but perfect; this variant has some success if – say – you have the cable wrapped around an opponent’s neck. Otherwise it’s simply an extremely inefficient way of spraying gas around yourself. Carrying a mask and a few miniature gas grenades works a lot better and is far less expensive.
  • The “Thunderbolt” variant adds electrical discharge systems to the cable, and actually does work to some extent. The electrical discharges do tend to disrupt the attraction-field and burn out the radiator tip, but if you shut down the weapons other functions while you’re using the electrical system, it does result in a clumsy-but-serviceable electrowhip. Unfortunately, the extra circuitry, larger power supply, and heavier cable all make for a bulky and clumsy weapon – and electrowhips are of dubious utility in any case.

   As general rules:

  • Compressed-air blasts and attacks can inflict up to 4d6 stunning damage and can affect up to a five foot radius.
  • Solid masses can cause up to 6d6 bludgeoning damage.
  • Dangerous materials can cause up to two additional dice of damage, depending on the material in question.
  • Hurled materials have a 20′ range increment.
  • It’s “grip” has a strength of 5d6 / +8.
  • When being used to inflict damage directly, it ignores armor but only causes 2d6 damage.
  • It is extremely difficult to use; in d20 it’s an exotic weapon which takes -5 penalty to rolls, in d6 it requires a 25 to hit with.

One Response

  1. […] The Variable Star: an exotic and versatile field-effect weapon […]

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